Montreal’s Ciman wins Defender of the Year award in close vote

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In a crowded field, Montreal defender Laurent Ciman stood out to voters as the No. 1 defender in Major League Soccer.

Oddly enough, it feels difficult to imagine it wasn’t the Belgian’s offensive flair that helped moved him past Vancouver’s Kendall Waston, Dallas’ Matt Hedges and RBNY’s Matt Miazga for the honors.

The player and media vote was close, but Ciman won his award with the club votes.

[ MORE: MLS Rookie of the Year = not a close vote ]

A crunching and intelligent tackler for Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, Ciman scored a pair of goals and added two assists for the Impact. But his vision and passing were a critical part of his game as well, and Ciman did take the fifth-most shots on Montreal (35).

It’s hard to not feel aggrieved if you’re a Waston fan, or an Omar Gonzalez fan. Plenty of players may’ve stood out in a game for more highlight-worthy reasons, but Ciman was a standout in traditional and advanced stats.

And Ciman is a feel-good winner as well, coming to North America to give his family, which includes a daughter who has autism, a better chance at getting top notch care.

MLS Defender of the Year Winners:
2015: Laurent Ciman, Montreal Impact
2014: Chad Marshall, Seattle Sounders
2013: Jose Goncalves, New England Revolution
2012: Matt Besler, Sporting Kansas City
2011: Omar Gonzalez, LA Galaxy
2010: Jamison Olave, Real Salt Lake
2009: Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew
2008: Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew
2007: Michael Parkhurst, New England Revolution
2006: Bobby Boswell, D.C. United
2005: Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City Wizards
2004: Robin Fraser, Columbus Crew
2003: Carlos Bocanegra, Chicago Fire
2002: Carlos Bocanegra, Chicago Fire
2001: Jeff Agoos, San Jose Earthquakes
2000: Peter Vermes, Kansas City Wizards
1999: Robin Fraser, LA Galaxy
1998: Lubos Kubik, Chicago Fire
1997: Eddie Pope, D.C. United
1996: John Doyle, San Jose Clash